The river Aire is an excellent coarse and trout fishing water, in the upper reaches of the river from Skipton upstream it's fly fishing for brown trout and grayling. Bradford City AA own some two miles of double bank fly fishing where grayling have been caught to 3lbs. The fishing starts from the A59 and goes upstream to Gargrave. The fly fishing section of Bradford City AA must be congratulated on the amount of hard work members have put into improving this stretch of river where they have made it into such a delightful place to fly fish. Another club further up the Aire valley, Bowland Game Anglers have several miles of fishing, they also do a lot of habitat work on the river.

This feature though is concentrating on the coarse fishing available on the river Aire from Kildwick downstream to Bingley where you have several miles of first class coarse fishing, the controlling clubs are Keighley at AC twenty pound a season, two pounds a day. Bradford City AA membership fee costs twenty six pounds with a ten pound joining fee. Bradford No 1 AA membership fee costs just twenty seven pounds and Marsden Star AS. All four club cards are excellent value for money.

These angling clubs also have many other waters which include, canals, rivers and still waters containing virtually all the coarse fish species. The first three mentioned club cards can be purchased from several tackle dealers in West Yorkshire, space forbids me from listing them all. The two shops closest to the river itself are K.L.Tackle 127 North Street Keighley West Yorkshire Tel 01535-667574 and Gee Tee Angling Supplies 13 Briggate Silsden NR Keighley Tel 01535-655555 both shops not only stock various baits, day and season permits. They also have up to date information on the rivers best fishing spots. The Marsden Star AS cards costing twenty pounds are available from J Hartley, 3 Duerden Street, Nelson, Lancs - Tel 01282-603362.

Fishing the river Aire from Kildwick downstream to Bingley you can expect to catch various coarse fish. In brackets I have listed what is probably the best weight for each fish such as chub (6-3-0), bream (8-4-0), roach (2-6-0) perch (2-14-0) pike 30lbs plus with several 20lb plus fish being caught. In 1998, 14 year old girl Sara Dinsdale caught a 25lb 8 ounce pike which was very well deserved. All you boys, girls, men and woman have a chance of catching a big pike, but remember you can't catch these big fish unless you have a bait in the water!

The A629 road closely follows the river Aire for some miles with parking available in several lay byes. Be careful on this road though, it's a 60 MPH speed limit but most motorist drive like idiots thinking it's a race track. I think it's time the police made a few speed checks on this road before someone gets killed. When parking up for a days fishing make sure there is nothing of value on view in your vehicle, in fact leave nothing including the radio. There are two legged beasts about known as thieving slobs.

The river Aire is certainly a Crabtree water with its overhanging trees and deep holes, you will find deep slow stretches, fast shallows and steady runs of around five feet in depth where you can trot a float for chub roach or bream. Some swims scream chub, others pike. The slow steady water, around five feet in depth, can offer you the chance of a big roach, bream or perch.

Many anglers choose to fish one swim, using caster bait on a size 16 hook and feeding with hemp, this method certainly works under the right conditions as they often catch some good fish. Other anglers like myself roam the river dropping baits into all the likely looking spots and are rewarded with some nice chub. The baits used are lobworms, cheese paste, meat paste, bread flake and crust. Lobworms certainly work on this river when the water is high and coloured. The late John Driver fishing the river in the summer of 1998 caught two big roach on lobworms weighing 2-4-0 and 2-6-0.

Some of the deeper slower water by the golf course and downstream is best fished with swim feeder rig using hemp as an attractor with gentles or casters as hook bait and feeding with hemp. This method has accounted for several good catches of bream and roach, float fishing for roach with a small Avon float, (You might have to use a slider in some of the swims) and caster bait is often a winning method when the water has some colour with a water temperature above 44 degrees F. Laying on using a size ten hook with lobworm or bread flake bait will often cause the downfall of a good roach or bream.

My way of fishing this river is usually with bread as bait, using an Avon rod, fixed spool or centre pin reel, 6lb Masterline Illusion line with Partridge Jack Hilton barbless hooks from 2's through to 6's. For weights I use swan and LG shot, the amount depending on the flow and depth of water being fished. Other baits I like to have, even if I don't plan to use them, are cheese, meat and lobworms. Sometimes bread will fail, often a changed bait turns a fishless day into a fish day. I drop a bait into every likely looking spot, sometimes staying for a minute, other times for an hour or more but all the time thinking about my next move. Before moving on I drop some hook-size bits of bait into the swim. I often return to the same spot later in the day. Give it a try!

Mr Martin James